Amazon Echo and your right to privacy: This week’s staff picks

 In News, Staff Picks

Happy Friday! Here are the most interesting tech stories we read this week.

Yahoo’s new chatbot will nag your family for you (Read by Alexandria H.)

Yahoo has a new SMS-based service to help families manage their busy schedules. Called Captain, the digital assistant uses artificial intelligence to keep you and your family up to date on each other’s whereabouts. Users simply text instructions to Captain, which then sends out reminders to relevant family members. Because Captain is text-message based, you don’t need a smart phone to use it, nor do you need to worry about someone uninstalling an app and missing those nifty reminders. This goes to show that sometimes, simpler is better.

An artist helps iTunes’ user agreement go down easy (Read by Heidi B.)

Let’s be real: Few things are more boring than lengthy user agreements. Wouldn’t it be nice if they came in the form of, say, comics? Well now they do! Artist R. Sikoryak has published “Terms and Conditions,” a graphic novel that delivers Apple’s iTunes user agreement within snippets of various comics. Even cooler yet, Sikoryak dressed a character in each comic in Steve Jobs’ signature outfit of glasses and a black turtleneck. Check out this article to see Apple-fied versions of your favorite comics, from “Garfield” to “Wonder Woman.” Fine print was never so fun!

Can Amazon Echo help solve a murder? Police will soon find out. (Read by Camillia S.)

In a world flooded with connected devices, the line between private and public is becoming increasingly blurred. Case in point: Could an Amazon Echo hold the one piece of evidence to crack a murder case wide open, and if so, should it be admissible in a court of law? Those are the questions being asked in this Arkansas murder case, which is reminiscent of the widely-reported fight between Apple and the FBI over the tech giant’s refusal to unlock an iPhone that belonged to one of the gunman in the 2014 San Bernardino shooting. The difference is that, in this particular case, the defendant has given police the green light to access his Echo recordings.

While Alexa (the name of Echo’s digital assistant) is always listening, she isn’t always recording, so I’m not sure what detectives are expecting to find. But as everyday life grows evermore intertwined with technology, the issue of expectation of privacy will increasingly be in the spotlight. I’m curious to see how laws will adapt.

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